Azalea Breeders Cup
This race is much weaker for the presence of the Prioress on the same weekend. They'll either have to up the purse or the grade to attract better fillies. Andrew Leggio may have another Happy Ticket on his hands with Atlanta Highway. She is undefeated in his care but faces a huge class test here. I prefer Mike Mitchell's filly, Sindy With an S. She is nearly flawless in her career, her only loss came on an all weather track and perhaps 7f is too far for her. But her figures on Dirt and even Turf are more than good enough to win this race. I do like to play Californians in sprint races when coming east. Mitchell is very good with Turf to Dirt movers and everything looks good for Sindy With an S.
Sindy With an S
Most will see this as a match race between Teuflesberg and Black Seventeen. Teuflesberg is the class of the race while Black Seventeen carries that huge 109 BSF from his last race. I will oppose Teuflesberg only because I think he'll be a shortish price and I patently distrust his trainer. Sanders has only 3 wins from 143 stars this year. Teuflesberg has 2 of those wins, he is clearly the best horse she has but her management of him is random. He does look to be a better sprinter than anything but at the same time I don't trust her to by pass a race if the horse not doing as well as he should. He's been raced very hard and I think it'll be tough for him to race well twice in a row. Black Seventeen needs a class test but his figures and most of his results are excellent. In 3 of his 5 lifetime starts he simply thrashed his opponents. He can be forgiven for his loss in the SA Derby because of the distance but it is his debut this year that gives me concern. He was handled rather easily by Les Grandes Trois and that one failed badly when coming east. Hopefully for him it was just a race to get the cobwebs out. I kind of like the underrated Finallymadeit. He loves Calder and is a far better horse here than anywhere else. He won the local prep for this race in decent style but his most impressive race was a 3rd to older course specialist Weigelia. Weigelia is a very solid horse, much better than everyone in this race. If he can run back to that form he could be very tough indeed.
This race really needed Pussycat Doll. I loved Indian Flare's last race but I suspect that she does not fire as well off of short rest. In basically every case where she has raced with less than 5 weeks rest she has disappointed. Coming in here with 3 weeks rest may be a big negative for her. Shaggy Mane is the horse they'll all have to contend with. She is super fast and more than good enough to get away even though there is a lot of speed in here. I also like Selvatica. She is a very consistent horse and seems to love the distance. Canani is very good with this type. I also like Pletcher's G City Gal. She was third on this card last year and rarely runs a bad race. Her seasonal debut seemed slower than you'd expect but Pletcher should have her ready to fire second start back.
G City Gal
I like Fabulous Strike a fair bit but if he is able to do to Smokey Stover what he has done to all his rivals of late then he is a much better horse than I thought. He'll go right to the front and dare anyone to go with him. Weigelia and Mach Ride will have their chances compromised severely because of him. The odd thing about this race is that there really aren't any effective closers. Smokey Stover is easily the most capable off the pace horse and he could just as easily be right on the pace. He is a very versatile horse and I think it is that tactical ability that will give him the advantage over his rivals. He will break from the outside so Gryder will get a good look at the field. I expect he'll get a perfect trip and wear down Fabulous Strike in the end.